Alienation, education and obfuscation: a report from a House of Commons Seminar – 27 June 2012

This week I was fortunate to be able to present my work with alienated children and their families at a seminar at the House of Commons which was sponsored by Andrew Selous MP and Chaired by the High Court Judge Sir Paul Coleridge.  The key presenter for the event was Professor Nick Bala from Canada who has written and published widely on the issue of differentiation in cases of alienation and I was privileged to be able to present my work both in front of him and other mental health and legal professionals working in the field.  Also presenting was Dr Mark Berelowitz, a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist at the Royal Free Hospital.

The event was organised as a follow up to a seminar held two years ago in which Professor Nick Bala presented some of his research findings and his work in contributing to the understanding of the field of high conflict divorce and separation and alienation.  I attended that seminar in 2010 and took much of what Professor Bala said then and more recently and shaped this into my practice with families.  It was, therefore, a significant event for me, in that I had the opportunity to demonstrate how his work on differentiation, can be translated into a model of work for the UK.  I am delighted to be able to say that the response to my presentation was extremely positive, both from the Professor himself and other professionals who attended the seminar.

There was a great deal of interest at the event on the issue of alienation and also on the issue of court management of cases where alienation occurs.  Andrew Selous was very encouraging in his support of change within the court system and Sir Paul Coleridge spoke in a very determined manner about the way in which the ‘three strikes and you are out’ approach is essential.  His comments on intractable cases were unequivocal, they are damaging to children.  I was encouraged by both his understanding of the ways in which there are similar features in the cases and the reality that strong court management and enforcement are key tools in the prevention and cure of the issue.

Professor Bala was incredibly lucid in his presentation, not only about the issue of alienation but about its impact and about the way in which it arises.  He was explicit about the roots of alienation, which is not that mothers are more likely to alienate, because it is a fact that fathers do it too.  The root cause of the alienation reaction, no matter what route it takes to become fully establised, is the residence and contact model of post separation legislation that dominates our culture in the UK.  He was also very critical of the delay in our courts and the lack of co-ordinated enforcement strategies. He also discussed the problem of the feminist academics who wrongly interpret data from overseas to prevent a more egalitarian model of post separation support being introduced in this country.

The residence and contact model of support is, of course, the critical point at which power and control over children is established when a family separates. Tying it neatly into the receipt of Child Benefit was a tactically brilliant way of ensuring that mothers had first dibs on who has power because that benefit is still paid overwhelmingly to the mother.  Another clever tactic, built into the language of post separation legislation is the whole concept of custody and access, now called variously care and contact, primary carer and non resident parent.  Although soon to be abolished, the terms residence and contact will, without doubt, continue to be used as labels to stick on parents and, because the primary and none primary carer model will still be denoted through the receipt of Child Benefit, the problem of who has power will continue.

In cases where alienation is present the issue of power is key.  Whether alienation arises because of unresolved conflict between two parents or whether it arises because of deliberate and determined actions on the part of one parent against the other, it is always the case that children who are alienated have parents who are struggling over the power to be or not to be a parent in their lives.  Alienation is a reaction that strikes children who are elevated to the position of adult in a family system, they are children who have been invested with too much power.  Sometimes the power is handed to the child because parents cannot stop fighting and the child has to take control and manage the conflict through withdrawal, sometimes it is because children have been given power by one parent acting against the other.  Whatever the cause the problem is that the power that the parents once had in the family system has been misdirected to the child and the whole concept of residence and contact, placing one parent in control over the other is, without doubt, a contributing factor to this problem.

So much of what Professor Bala says makes sense and I will write in more detail about his thinking later.  I have done a great deal of work in the two years since I last heard him speak, in translating his differentiation model into a model for work in the UK and for me, the event allowed me to both share my practice and hear more about his progress and his thinking.  To that end I felt privileged and honored to be considered good enough to do that and it has encouraged us to be bold in plans to commence a research programme with colleagues and evaluate the model we use at CSF further so that we can contribute to the field both internationally and at home.

There was of course a resistance to what was a really interesting and positive event, where the issue of parental alienation felt accepted and acknowledged and we were able to think about the issues in a supportive environment.  The resistence came, as it often does, in the guise of CAFCASS, this time the Chair of CAFCASS Baroness Tyler who when challenged about the lack of training and awareness and the unskilled approach used by Family Court Practitioners told us that it is not the case that CAFCASS do not understand this issue, in fact it is the case that there are far more residence orders given to fathers these days and CAFCASS recommend residence orders for fathers and mothers on a more or less equal basis.

Given that Professor Bala was explicit in his presentation  about the problem of residence and contact being a major contributor to the problem of alienation,her comment missed the point completely but what Baroness Tyler also failed to tell us was how she comes to know that her staff are recommending residence orders equally, a ‘fact’  that she stated so confidently and so breezily.

We know, for example, that there are no records kept of who gets residence in the family courts and so it cannot be from there that she garners her knowledge.  The only other way she could be so definite and so unequivocal about the issue of who gets residence was if CAFCASS are keeping records of what is being recommended by their workers, something I very much doubt.  But you can bet I will be following it up with a letter both to the Baroness herself and her head of service Anthony Douglas.

Apart from that short deviation (when all in the room appeared to stare in astonished disbelief, both at the lack of understanding of the root of the problem and the breath taking arrogance so common to the upper echelons of CAFCASS), the event demonstrated that the issue of alienation is increasingly being accepted, as is the need for the kind of court management that will prevent it.  It was, I hope, the first of many more opportunities to educate and inform and who knows, one day we might even pierce the fog of the obfuscation that appears to be the order of the day in the management of CAFCASS.

Professor Bala told us that alienation damages children and that intervention is critical. He spoke of his interest and support of the Australian model and the importance for the UK of moving and modernising our understanding of the separated family and its needs.   Strong court management, strong enforcement and swift intervention. If Sir Paul Coleridge has his way, those who deliberately misinterpret orders will have three chances before they are out. Perhaps the government might consider applying that approach to CAFCASS itself leaving the rest of us to get on and do the work that we know makes the difference for children.

25 comments

  1. Cityman · June 29, 2012

    Thanks from all the children & alienated parents who due to the good work of knowledgeable people may see the end of this scourge.

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  2. John Denbigh · June 29, 2012

    Well done Karen for taking this valuable opportunity to raise awareness of alienation.

    Your point that “alienation is a reaction that strikes children who are ….. invested with too much power “ is very valid one but it is not just the conflict between the parents that invests that power in them but more the very damaging approach by Cafcass and the Courts of determining matters on the basis of children’s purported ‘wishes and feelings, contrary to case law that establishes quite rightly that their welfare interests should be the key determinant. The wishes and feelings approach simply places children right in the middle of parental conflict, divides their loyalties and burdens them with taking decisions that they are too young to take and understand the long term implications of, as well as empowering the mother to alienate. I personally see it as one of the most damaging aspects of the system, a view I know Paul Coleridge shares.

    As for for Baroness Tyler’s claims that ‘these days CAFCASS recommend residence orders for fathers and mothers on a more or less equal basis’ that is just astounding .

    Like

    • karenwoodall · June 29, 2012

      We will be doing a lot more work around this issue for sure and yes, the issue of wishes and feelings was raised alongside the issue of residence and contact as a problem in elevating children to the place of poower over parents..again the Baroness breezed by the issue with breathtaking disregard…she’s on CAFCASS message but way off the mark when it comes to the real world. K

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      • Grandmani · June 29, 2012

        Re ‘wishes and feelings’ issues why is it that Cafcass and judges act on the ‘alleged’ wishes of an alienated child to keep them away from a parent .The child would not have the same power conferred if he/she expressed a wish to stay away from school.!

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  3. pauldmanning · June 29, 2012

    Well done Karen, I congratulate you on a stirling valiant effort to educate those not in the know about PAS and that includes Cafcass. I found it enlightening and most interesting. Let us hope that some urgently needed governmental recognition comes from it and soon.

    On a personal note I today met with the new Cafcass Guardian who has been appointed since I won my appeal in the courts of justice in London, she seems to be more reasonable than the last one, (mind you thats not hard to do). I battle on after 4 years struggling to get justice for my boy. They will never break my love for my son, never!

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    • missingmybabies · July 9, 2012

      Hi Paul, is there any chance that i can email you concerning my own situation.

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  4. phil · June 29, 2012

    Well done karen, it is a pleasure to read your aticles… If only I had this level of information four years ago when the topic was taboo in the courts and in the legal circles.. the general advice was then “don’t mention parental alienation.. the courts do not recognise it and it will weaken your case”… Today, it feels like we are moving on for new cases but how miight we repair the damage already done ???

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  5. Jeff Bull · June 29, 2012

    To briefly echo Phil’s comment, as recently as a year ago I too was being told not to mention the words ‘Parental Alienation’ as not only would it weaken my case, but make me appear ‘bitter and twisted’ and need of psychological help. I did mention it, and I was treated as though I was from another planet!

    Court proceedings reached their usual conclusion, leaving me to hope that when my daughter, who has become completely alienated not just from me, but also her elder sisters and entire paternal family, is older she will see through the subversion, seek out the truth, and re-establish the relationships that have been denied her. I won’t hold my breath!

    I have just entered into ‘discussion’ with her school over the issue of who should be the contacts on her ‘data sheet’ and in my last email to them briefly referred to ‘Parental Alienation’ to counter some ill informed comments that they had made previously. It will be interesting to read their response to see if they are now any better informed of this issue.

    Likewise, I wish the articles that Karen has written recently, and thus the information, had been more widely available several years ago, as then the only references were those from work in USA/Canada which not even my own solictor `would take seriously, even though what was happening to my daughter should have been obvious anyway.

    Keep up the good work Karen, and I hope for sake of the many children in this country that are being deprived of important childhood relationships and emotionally scarred as a result, that politicians and those that have it within their powers to change things sit up and listen to what you say, and do change things, sooner rather than later.

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  6. Yvie · June 30, 2012

    I just want to pass a comment about the wishes and feelings reports undertaken by CAFCASS. My son’s children were interviewed by CAFCASS only in the home of their mother. My son requested an interview with the children at his own home but this was refused. The outcome was that the eldest boy asked for Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday until 12 with his dad every week. The obvious difficulty here was that mum would not get a weekend with him which would have needed to be addressed. However, it was not addressed and no account was therefore taken of his wishes and feelings.

    The youngest boy (8) said that he wanted things to remain the same. However, this morning he asked for extra time with his dad as there is a summer fayre on. My son gently said to the youngest that he had ‘told the man’ that he wanted things to stay the same. My grandson replied that he wished there were eight days in the week, four with mum and four with dad.

    I think that makes a complete nonsense of the wishes and feelings reports that CAFCASS undertook, as I assume that mum had primed the youngest as to what he should say. The eldest has a mind of his own.

    However,the good thing is that my son and his ex. are now in ‘amicable’ contact with each other and that she has agreed to extra time for this morning.. I think the difficulty with 50/50 shared care all along has been with the overnight stays.

    This is one of the reason why I have always been in favour of 50/50 shared care by default although I appreciate that this is not a view held by all.

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  7. suewhitcombe · July 1, 2012

    Having been fortunate enough to attend this seminar, I found much of what was said both encouraging and thought-provoking. I’d like to congratulate Karen on her work – which just seems so “sensible”, obvious and common-sense for anyone who is aware of children’s needs and psychological development. I was encouraged too by the insistence of Sir Paul Coleridge that alienation is now very much accepted as a reality.

    However, my enthusiasm is somewhat dampened by what I have found to be the reality. Outside of London, and the higher courts, “Parental Alienation” is still most definitely a no-no – raise its spectre at your peril. It is most certainly not accepted by many district judges and its existence by the majority of magistrates, which deal with many applications for contact and residence in the first instance, is simply not acknowledged. CAFCASS too seem to have little understanding – with “wishes and feelings” rarely appropriately investigated. Their focus on the immediate perceived well-being of a child with a total disregard for appropriate timely emotional development, smacks of “don’t rock the boat”. Any parent knows that “rocking the boat” is an essential part of parenting. We negotiate and police rules and boundaries, and sometime we enforce that which our child may not “like” for the sake of their well-being – taking medication, eating healthy foods, attending school, limiting games console use.

    Until PA is fully explained to and understood by all the personnel involved with family law, throughout the country, I fear that we remain a long way off providing the best outcomes for those families in its grip.

    My reservations notwithstanding, the sooner Karen’s work is researched and validated, disseminated and made more widely available, the better – a real hope at last for children and conflicting families.

    Like

    • Kat · July 1, 2012

      Well said!

      Like

  8. Gary Pickering · July 1, 2012

    Karen, I also congratulate you. My daughter is 20 moths old. I haven’t seen her for over 6 months because of an implacably hostile mum. She is being deprived not only of the love of a dedicated dad and wider family but the chance to grow and learn more than she will otherwise. I do see this as a form of abuse when one parent is able to deprive a child who cannot speak for herself one of the most fundamental needs of us all. The love of a parent. She is an obvious candidate for PAS and I hope the wonderful work you are doing may go some way to reduce its impact. I hope one day she will thank you, For now I say it for both of us.

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  9. Stephen Callard · July 1, 2012

    Karen this hits a raw nerve just yesterday i met for the first of supposedly 6 fortnightly visits before our next court appearance, and clearly you can see we wont be getting as many visits before court in the first week of August, and had i of not acted by chasing up these arranged meeting through the core services at the beginning of June and again the end of June i feel we would of had non before the next court appearance.
    Now on to Cafcass my children’s guardian to me has been quite hostile and i couldn’t quite understand why but still i tried to have her investigate why my son is saying hateful things about me i have repeatedly asked her to look into his way of thinking but is was like talking to a brick wall, in fact in her own words she said “Name has demanded that she has contact with me” so from this i get the impression that for unknown reasons my daughter has tried to be persuaded not to have contact with her me, in all my dealings with the Guardian the tone of her voice is negative towards me.
    When the judge asked me what i thought about appointing a cafcass guardian to the children i expressed that i would rather protect the children from court arena but do feel they need a say in what happens within their contact with dad so i agreed to allow one to be granted by the courts. In my first contact with the court reporter before cafcass got became Guardian in the telephone call i stated that i don’t feel cafcass had in the past put my children first and think the courts are bias towards the mother and so do not have much confidence in the outcome of any order made this first report had nothing in their that i said about how the children felt after the last order in 2009 and how angry the children felt about the last cafcass worker lying to them and getting their hopes up about coming to live with dad. When i met the guardian in February she couldn’t find any risk with me so in her report she made one up saying im emotional which of course i was and justifiably so, all she put was that she recommends contact via core children services and that risk (if any) is manageable, i went along with her recommendation for my sons sake as he was expressing classic Alienation and i have lost count how many times i have asked about my son and if she had persuaded him to join us on visits as ordered by the courts, it seams all my aspirations are falling on deaf ears. i wrote to the court and expressed how unhappy i am with the guardian and the time delays arranging our contacts which core children services say it was down to cafcass as its them that set out the provisions and conditions of each parties 81 days we had to wait and had i of not got involved it would of been another two week before our first visit, the judge sent my email to cafcass that contained my disapproval of such delay and asked how my daughter must be feeling about this delay she rang me Thursday just gone and was no different and offered no apology for the delays and was quite short with me to be frank.

    I met my daughter yesterday at core children services and to be quite honest the place is like a prison a total lack of thing for children to do boring walls and so quiet you could hear a pin drop we had two people listening and making notes on everything we said and right at the beginning we hit an issue where i have been given a form for my daughter to sign from the social services so i could be given her case file to see what provisions have been put in place to help my daughter with her problems she is experiencing in and out of school she has been put on a ABC (acceptable behavior contract) after being arrested by the police for shop lifting among other things like criminal damage, anti social behavior. when this was brought to my attention in late (sept 2011) i informed the local authorities in her town and they then intervened to help her. so just to make it clear i reported my daughters behavior to children in need and they made a referral to the SS for her, but this is where i’m allowed no further, since the mother was informed i reported our child she has again blocked any contact me and my daughter had, any info i try to get about what is being done for her i’m refused, i’m a father with PR for both children but when it comes to all the authorities ie: police, school, council us dads may well not exist. I witnessed my child entering problem relationships and a downward slope in respect of how she is conducting herself and was compelled to act in her best interests and yet the child living under the mothers nose done nothing to help her the mother/daughter relationship is sour and always have been my daughter hang out on the streets just to stay away from her mum as she is not respected by her this has also rose yesterday when we got chatting about their guardian in my daughters words “we hate her” i replied “sorry” as my daughter speaks very quietly she said louder “me and bro hates her but mom likes her” the “but mom likes her” was said in the most disrespected way almost like they hate it that mum likes her but she knows why as and is the reason we are having to go through the core services to get to see each other this bit of info that was openly given to me by daughter tells me the reason Tom is refusing to cooperate with this guardian and i totally understand where he is coming from i think i would be the same if i take myself back to when i was 13 and faced with their problems i think i would say what mum wants to hear just for an easy life.
    so you see Karen i’m lost as to what to do now i have another visit in two weeks which i will be going too but as my daughter is 15 next month she is of an age where she can walk into a solicitors office and ask to have representation for our case to get the justice that she and bro deserves.
    The thing is is there doing reports about how contact went but its such an informal and foreign place contact is not going as natural as it should my daughter is a shadow of her real self and is so quiet in there i just know she wanted to tell me so much but was prepped before i went in she was confused about what she could say and not. this is killing me i can tell ya to watch my little girl struggle with it all i just wanted to put my arms around her and reassure her everything is going to be ok, and i just want to see my son to say i don’t care about what he has said i still love and miss him.
    upon leaving i spoke to the man doing the report and i said i thought it went as well as it could of gone, but he said well i did have to say on two occasions for the convo to change these were: the signature i asked from my daughter and in a normal surrounding she would of been happy to sign it for dad but she said she didn’t know if she was allowed too and looked at the watchers for an answer who then said they don’t think it is appropriate, even though i was granted by the court all info on file about her but the council needs the child to agree to it for them to release the files to me, and the other was about their guardian but my daughter prompted me for the question by what she said about her so naturally i asked her and how i see it my children should be able to talk to his/her parent about anything they want to talk about anything as long as the child feels comfortable doing so and it was the child initiating the topic.

    a day has now passed an im sitting here wondering how my daughter felt about the visit and i feel so very sorry for her that she was made to feel she couldn’t talk about things she clearly was dying to tell me but was made to feel shut up and suppressed. i really need help on this because i feel my children best interests are being ignored and denied them their fundamental right to have a meaningful relationship with their daddy.

    i will leave you with a quote from my children in mid July 2009 on a staying contact over summer “dad we are glad you are our daddy you are the best daddy in the whole universe” this made me cry happy rears to hear these few words :~) kids i love you always Dad xxx

    Thanks Karen and friends for listening!

    Like

    • Paul · July 4, 2012

      When the judge consulted you over the appointment of a guardian, you should have responded by saying you didn’t want one. Why do you think your children should ‘have a say in what happens within contact with dad’ when they are the subject of legal dispute? This is simply over-empowering the child, a causative factor in alienation, as Karen continually points out. All a guardian does in a case like yours is add greater weight to the negativity you are already having to contend with. Guardians contribute nothing but trouble in alienation cases. The voice of an alienated or part-alienated child doesn’t need strengthening because it articulates the case of the favoured parent.

      Like

  10. Gregory- · July 4, 2012

    God Bless you Karen, keep up the good work, you’re a beacon of hope to so many.

    Like

  11. Mr. Notright · July 6, 2012

    Excellent work Karen, for questioning and exposing the dishonesty of Baroness Tyler.

    Anyone who has been through the courts will know exactly what you are talking about when you say that child benefit and residency set up a power imbalance that paves the way for, and even encourages, one parent to engage in ‘divorce poison’.

    Not until child benefit is split will we be able to prevent all that poison from brewing in the first place.

    Like

  12. Yvie · July 7, 2012

    Child benefit and child maintenance arrangements in their present form are the biggest obstacle in preventing parents from coming to a fair and amicable agreement regarding meaningful contact with their children. If this issue was properly addressed, applications through the Family Court would fall away leaving only the most embittered parents having to resort to court hearings to settle contact arrangements.

    Like

  13. Mum-minus-daughter · July 14, 2012

    I consider the (personally witnessed) obfuscation of CAFCASS is a problem of the duality of their role. From my case because of the strong attention to ‘child’s wishes’ I consider that the guardians become too easily emotionally enmeshed with the alienating parent and resident child. They then become a mere mouthpiece for the child. Or rather I should say that because that child has been brainwashed by their resident parent CAFCASS actually end up reinforcing NOT what the child wants but the alienating parent. This creates a 2 against 1 situation in court not a 3 way debate as it should be. A problem for not just for the rejected parent but the Judge too.

    Yes, it is important to listen to what the ‘child’s’ wishes are but from then on, on a secondary level, most important, CAFCASS need to engage their brains and EVALUATE what they’ve heard. As Court appointed ‘child experts’, they should be not just acting as parrots in Court but stating that regardless of what the child has said – what they consider is IN THE BEST INTERESTS OF THE CHILD. This far, in my case, despite expert reports confirming alienation by Dad, CAFCASS turn up to Court without a view. “The child says she is happy with Dad the way she is and doesn’t ever want anything to do with Mum.”

    An other other problem is that the slow and softly, softly approach of instating first CAFCASS, then psychiatric specialists is way too time consuming. 19 months from Court appointment to reports in my case!

    Also the current Court system currently does not account for the problems in dealing with a personality disordered or narcissistic alienating parent. If this was identified much earlier there would not be the slow ‘war of attrition’ whereby directives or orders are given out and then broken. And so onto the next suggestion, to be repeated. The new plans by Government to instruct mediation at the onset before Court concern me in this respect. You cannot reason with a person with BPD, so mediation would just create delay.

    My solution?…
    Early fast tracked psychiatric intervention, with child and family experts like Karen, for children whose wishes are extreme would help greatly reduce the current long waiting time which in turn leads to greater entrenchment of the child. Along with early Court ordered contact and the 3 strikes idea I consider this would go a long way to speeding up these miserably long and damaging cases like mine, reduce the amount of costly Court cases and ultimately reduce the damage to the poor children involved.

    Thus far, enlisting experts such as Karen is prohibitive to many parents as I believe they are generally privately funded (as in my case). If Government/Family Courts rubber-stamped state-funded early introduction of psychologists/psychiatrists for extreme cases, yes it would cost the state money initially, but long term save ridiculous costs associated with protracted and repeat visits to state funded Court, Judges, CAFCASS guardians and lawyers etc.

    And even longer term, this would potentially save NHS costs of psychiatric treatment for children who grow up with mental health problems due to the damage and abuse they suffered in the ‘poison years’.

    Like

    • Rietta · September 22, 2012

      Well Said. I am experience the same problem as you. Fathers alienate children too. Caffcass makes the problem far worse by giving in to their ‘wishes and feelings’ when they are too young to understand what they are saying or what is involved, and afterwards Caffcass do not follow up nor give a damn what happens to the child and the emotional damage that’s been caused by all the trauma. Please could you get in touch with me. Thank you

      Like

      • Mum-minus-daughter · September 23, 2012

        Hi Rietta – happy to get in touch with you. Not sure how to provide you contact details away from the public arena of the blog. Any ideas? MMD

        Like

      • Rietta · September 23, 2012

        Hi Thank you for replying, please could you get in touch through this e-mail rietta118@gmail.com.
        Rietta

        Like

  14. Alastair Patterson · August 10, 2012

    It is all about the child benefit. The legal connection that the social care agencies desperately cover up is disability. The key concept from the Framework of Children in Need and their Families is called parental capacity. This is the impairment of function, from disability, that adversely affects the day to day activity of giving the care to the child it would be reasonable to expect a parent to give a similar child.

    The local authority child care provision is connected to the national child care provision through disability in the Department of Work and Pensions Carers Service. The CSA was intended to replace child benefit, not just for separated parents.

    The ethos of the Children Act 1989 was that equality in the workplace was to be matched by equality in the home. The CSA was intended as the draconian sanction for fathers who refused to meet their child care responsibilities. It was not the statutory presumption of shared parenting it was the statutory requirement for shared parenting.

    Makes you sick, doesn’t it.

    Alastair

    Like

  15. Alastair Patterson · August 11, 2012

    The other side of parental alienation is impaired parental capacity for,
    “ensuring the child’s requirements for secure, stable and affectionate relationships with significant adults,” (Framework for Assessment of Children in Need and their Families 2.12).

    This should be assessed as a form of domestic violence by applying the Sturge Glaser criteria, but of course, never is.

    Social workers help and encourage mothers to alienate children rather than recognise parental capacity as a form of disability in integrating local and national care and welfare services to the child.

    Parental alienation is the device used to protect the child benefit as the gateway benefit for women.

    Alastair

    Like

  16. Alastair Patterson · August 11, 2012

    I don’t mean to hog this blog but Karen’s scepticism on Baroness Tyler’s easy statistics caught my eye. We have been pursuing CAFCASS on their lack of any statistics and this FOI may be of interest,
    http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/cafcass_statistics/new.

    In my view, the child’s wishes and feelings are the key to alienation. The child is inappropriately empowered and the subtle nuance’s of alienation make it clear how that power should be exercised.

    Sir Paul, to his great credit, took on board the advice of Dr Hamish Cameron on taking the child’s wishes and feelings. Sir Paul was expected to act as a judge, not a favourite uncle.

    Certainly in my own case I recognised it and withdrew. As Sir Nicholas Wall emphasises, it is the lifetime relationship that is important not next weeks contact. I am a great admirer of the family judiciary, but I do spend a lot of time on my own.

    Alastair

    Like

  17. Alastair Patterson · August 12, 2012

    I have now had the opportunity to examine Professor Bala’s work. The processes described in,
    http://www.crvawc.ca/documents/Family%20Court%20Review%20-%20Jaffe%20et%20al.pdf

    are identical with what was intended in the Framework for Assessment of Children in Need and their Families. The UK versions of Professor Bala’s work currently exist, for example,

    Cleaver, H., Nicholson, D., Tarr, S. and Cleaver, D. (2007) Child Protection, Domestic Violence and Parental Substance Misuse: Family Experiences and Effective Practice. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

    Cleaver, H. and Nicholson, D. (2007) Parental Learning Disability and Children’s Needs: Family Experiences and Effective Practice. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

    Cleaver, H., Unell, I. and Aldgate, A. (2010) Children’s Needs – Parenting Capacity: The impact of parental mental illness, learning disability, problem alcohol and drug use, and domestic violence on children’s safety and development. 2nd Edition. London: The Stationery Office.

    The underlying methodology is called “Assertive Outreach”. In current practice this deals with the serious social problems of the “impact of …mental illness, learning disability, problem alcohol and drug use”.

    The role of CAFCASS is to remove the “parent” and “domestic violence” processes, as described by Professor Bala, from the Assertive Outreach methodology and introduce false allegations as the vehicle for protracted children’s proceedings and parental alienation.

    Alastair

    Like

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